Gesa Power House Theatre proudly presents the award-winning documentary Vishniac on Wednesday, March 27 at 7 p.m.
Vishniac follows ground-breaking 20th century photographer Roman Vishniac from his early years in tsarist Russia to his emergence as a modernist photographer in Weimar Berlin, his journeys across Eastern Europe before the war and his family’s dramatic escape to America in 1940. After the war, Vishniac’s documentation continued with photographs of Berlin in ruins and children in displaced persons camps. Then, in a stunning shift, he turned almost exclusively to scientific photography, where he made considerable contributions in the field of microscopy. His “Living Biology” series, funded by the National Science Foundation, features some of the first films depicting life through a microscope. They became a staple in the 1960s and 1970s in classrooms across the United States. The brilliant artist, however, is best known for his iconic images of Jewish life in Eastern Europe form 1935 and 1938, the last visual records of these communities before they were wiped out.
The film is narrated by Vishniac’s daughter, Mara Kohn Vishniac, born in Berlin in 1926. Her clear-eyed view of her father adds to the complexity of a man who was a sometimes-unreliable narrator of his own life story. She was his helper in the darkroom and his “alibi” for photographing Nazi propaganda with her posed innocently in front of it. Growing up her father’s shadow, Mara sought to break free of his grip, only to come around and embrace his legacy. Ultimately, she took responsibility for preserving his diverse and stunning body of work, a haunting eulogy to a world on the brink of destruction.
About the filmmaker: Producer/Director Laura Bialis is an award-winning documentary filmmaker. Her most recent film, Rock in the Red Zone (2015) is a personal view from the ground in Sderot, Israel, and an exploration into the lives of musicians creating in a conflict zone. The film was screened in over 80 cities worldwide. Bialis directed and produced the critically acclaimed documentary Refusenik (2007), a seminal film about the movement to free Soviet Jews, which was released theatrically in fifteen cities, broadcast on Israeli television, and was released on Netflix. Other projects include View From the Bridge: Stories From Kosovo (2008); and Tak For Alt (1998), the story of Holocaust survivor turned Civil Rights activist Judy Meisel, which was honored by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, broadcast on PBS, and has been used extensively in high schools across the United States for Holocaust education. Laura holds a B.A. in History from Stanford University, and an M.F.A. in Production from the USC School of Cinema Arts.
Reserved seating tickets are $15 ($10 for students) and are available online or by calling the box office at 509-529-6500.